Aerial water tankers and helicopters aided local fire crews in dousing a fast-moving wildfire in a pine forest near Cass Lake on Wednesday afternoon. FOX 21 reported that 10 homes and the Cass Lake-Bena Middle School and High school were evacuated as a precaution.
The Northland's News Center in Duluth reported that nearly 100 firefighters battled the fire that covered 75 acres. At a news conference Wednesday evening, authorities said the fire was being investigated as an act of arson and that they had taken a juvenile male into custody. The teen had been spotted in the area at the time the blaze was sparked.
Cass Lake is in Cass County in north central Minnesota. The Bemidji Pioneer reported that conditions in the area fed the blaze.
“There’s an awful lot of mixed pine and blowdown from the July 5 storm two years ago,” said Greg Nelson, DNR Regional Director. “It will eventually break down but could take up to 10 years.”
The fire was originally reported as two fires that may have merged. The fire in Cass Lake follows another nearby fire; a 22-acre blaze that was started by a downed powerline in the Chippewa National Forest near Little Ball Club Lake was successfully contained on Sunday.
The DNR sent aid to battle another fire that broke out west of Big Falls in Koochiching County on Wednesday.